As a kid, I spent time playing in the small wooded areas nearby and imagined all sorts of critters living there. I know I did, but at some point I lost the ability (or willingness, or perhaps leisure? I remember an increase in homework around the same time). By the time I read of the enormous woodlands in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, I remember having trouble imagining the really large trees of Lothlórien or Mirkwood, or how Ents might be mistaken for trees.
You see, I grew up two hours south of the Arctic Circle. We have woods up there, of course, thanks to the Gulf stream. The trees may not necessarily grow very big, however—although there are exceptions—and the ones that do grow tall tend to be relatively thin and arrow-straight instead of bulky and gnarly. (Two examples here and here. Both are further south than where I grew up, but nevertheless very similar.)
So, even I can easily imagine how a forest might invoke stories of elves, trolls, ents, and other creatures on the basis of photos of Wistman’s Wood in Dartmoor, Devon, England.
Isn’t it breathtaking? It’s like there are Ents about to walk out from behind a tree at any moment!
The Visual Inspiration occasional feature pulls the unusual from our world to inspire design, story-telling, and worldbuilding. If stuff like this already exists, what else could we imagine?